I am a long-standing opponent of charges for hospital car parking. I don’t think it right that people who need to visit hospital, especially those seeking treatment for chronic illnesses such as cancer, face the burden of extra charges at what is already a very difficult time.
When University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (‘UHB’) took over the running of Solihull Hospital and other local health services, one of the first issues I raised with them is how we can make them more accessible to the many local residents who drive in to seek treatment or support a loved one.
However, as I said in Parliament recently we need an intelligent solution which recognises that in places like Solihull, where the hospital is in the middle of town, patients and visitors would often be squeezed out by shoppers if there were no sensible controls. I will continue to press health bosses for sensible reform of this ‘tax on compassion’.
I also spoke recently in the House of Commons on the need to reform the way we regulate private parking operators. Many residents get in touch with my constituency office to seek my help with a parking matter, and I know that many elderly residents have difficulty with the automated systems now employed by some operators in Solihull.
Unfortunately, at present there are two completely different sets of professional standards for private parking companies. This makes it much more difficult for drivers to find out what their rights are. That’s why I have supported a Private Member’s Bill tabled by my Conservative colleague, Sir Greg Knight, which will establish a single, universal standard for parking companies and help us crack down on rogue operators.
Finally, last week I visited the United States in my role as a member of the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. My fellow MPs and I questioned representatives of some of the world’s biggest digital and social media firms, including Google and Facebook, about how we can combat the spread of ‘fake news’. It was very interesting taking evidence from the companies which do so much to shape the modern world, and I hope that our investigation will help Parliament craft legislation fit for the age of the internet.
Julian Knight MP